Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sit, and wait for the words to come

   Blank is my mind
         like the bright white of a clean sheet of printer paper

         of thoughts
         of words
         of feeling
         of action or reaction
                  opinion or observation

And yet, the rhythm of those unspoken
                                                         unthought-of words

         courses through my entire being,
         like a train speeding down endless miles of railroad track to the
                  rhythm of its own engine

Where the words have gone - I don't know.

         But I take comfort in knowing that the poem will be waiting
                  when I find them.

Friday, May 26, 2006


What is it with the number 3? It's everywhere.

Think about it...

- 3 meals a day
- 3 parts of the psyche: the Id, the Ego, and the Superego
- 3 levels of schooling: elementary, middle, and high school
- 3's company
- 3's a crowd
- 3 Blind Mice
- 3 Little Pigs
- 3 Bears
- 3 Billy Goats Gruff
- 3 Musketeers (the people and the candy bar)
- 3 Stooges
- Huey, Dewey, and Louie
- Movies and Books come in trilogies all the time
- Triplets in music
- Most people have 3 names: first, middle, last

Okay, so after setting this list aside for about 10 minutes and coming back to it now, I guess it doesn't seem quite as mind-blowing...this number 3. Maybe it's just that I've been noticing the number 3 a lot lately. Hm. Wonder why?

Ah well... the world's a mystery sometimes. Just the way I like it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Oh to find the words to say...

Have you ever experienced something that ended up meaning so much to you that you find yourself lacking the ability to describe the feelings evoked within you from said experience? And this...confusion (for lack of a better term...because I don't really feel that I'm confused, per se) becomes a tremendous force that envelopes your entire world for the next few days as you try to process exactly how much this experience meant to you?

Alright, time to get a little more specific...

That's how I feel about my experience up in the Catskills, visiting my friend at the zen monastery. Something about my visit (indeed, probably more than just one 'something') has touched me so deeply, that I am having a very difficult time processing how I currently feel. Different emotions fight to the surface. The ones you would expect: happiness from getting to see my friend and learning about what he's up to, sadness from having to leave so soon, perhaps you would even expect (if not immediately bring to mind on your own) that I would feel amazement at seeing something so different from the world in which I live. And those are all there, certainly. But that's just the beginning. There's so much more in there. I just have yet to find the words to adequately describe how I feel. [I actually keep wondering if there even are words to describe everything I feel about this visit...]

In a lot of ways, though, I know there are some thoughts/feelings inside that I don't want to share with the world. That are mine, that belong to no one else. (Surely, on some basic level, that can be said about any emotion/thought/experience/idea. But most of them are shared with someone, somehow making them less yours.) Perhaps one of the reasons I'm having such a problem processing this: so many people want to know about my time up there...what do I want to tell them and what do I want to keep for myself?

Of course, there are many other reasons for my difficulty in processing all of of the main ones being that it has not even been 24 hours since I experienced all of this, so there's been no chance for the perspective I will ultimately gain with the distance from the experience after the freshness of the experience has worn off.

But bits and pieces rise to the surface of my mind...

It was truly wonderful to spend that 25 hours with my friend. He and I talked nonstop for all but perhaps 7 or 8 of those hours...well, talked nonstop or sat in silence together. Something I've always enjoyed about him...that he's comfortable just sitting in silence for awhile. Still enjoying my company as much as I still enjoy his, we just simply don't need to talk at that particular moment. But, it was like reconnecting with a person with whom I'm never afraid to be myself. [Can I say that I love people like that? (And who doesn't, really?) It takes so much mental stress out of the equation.]

The strongest and clearest emotion that I have been able to identify is an amazingly powerful sense of calmness. That has lasted me the entire trip back to Boston (i.e. 8+ hours on buses) and my entire day today. And it's still there. I really love this feeling. It makes the world look different in certain ways.

I have begun to detect a pattern in my behavior whenever I feel this way...when I feel something that I have a hard time explaining with mere words. I turn on my music (these days on the iPod, years ago I'd be pulling out a CD) and listen until I find a song with lyrics and a mood that seems to fit in with what I'm feeling. It usually isn't the whole song...most often it's a verse or chorus, or a couple of phrases even. But it just clicks into my self-reflective state and I feel a little less emotionally muddled.

Music does that to me...allows me to connect my ball of unprocessed emotion and thoughts into the melody and harmonies and ride along for awhile. Music has always hit me deep in my soul. And that's what happened to me up in those mountains. Those 25 hours have touched my soul.

I wish I could capture those moments. Hold on to them. Step back into them and wrap myself up in them all over again. But then again, I'm glad that's impossible. Because I have them all stored in my memory.

In my last post, I said that I thought that perhaps something huge was going to happen while I was up there, since it seemed that the universe had taken particular notice of my life as of late. Turns out, something big did happen. And I feel it deep inside of me. If only I could find the words to explain it, to describe it, to tell myself what "it" is...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Philosophical pudding...a mixture of musings that could possibly end in a point, or could drift off quite aimlessly into the abyss.

I know, I's been over a month. You all thought I'd disappeared or something, huh? No, just been NEVER HOME for the past MONTH!!! Whew! And I'm going out of town this weekend, too... I must be nuts...

But seriously, down to business. Have you ever had the feeling that something was almost fated to happen? Everything falls into place, you have no way to try and not let it's like the whole universe is set on making this thing happen. And it's almost as if you have little choice in the matter. Other elements in the universe have decided for you.

Yeah, I know. Sounds really hokey, and very off-in-left-field. Not usually my style. But I mentioned before that I'm going out of town this weekend. I tried to get out of it, thinking I should spend a weekend at home. I emailed my friend to ask if I could come a different time. No. The person I'm visiting wrote back and said possibly the one thing that would make me change my mind and decide to go.

Heh. I'm going.

[For the record, I am really excited about going. And I'm glad the universe has decided to push me there. Haha.]

But that's not all. The weather (as we all are much too aware of) has been less than dry for the past week and a half. And the weather leading up to my visit is all rain, the weather after my visit is all rain. But the days I'm there? Sunny with a few clouds. Very pleasant days. Weird, right?

This visit also comes out of hearing from a friend (i.e. the person I'm visiting this weekend) I knew back when I was in college and had sort of lost touch with. I'd see him when I visited home, but that's different. And randomly, I got this email from him...and now I'm going out to the middle of nowhere in upstate NY to visit.

It just all seems a little odd when you put it all together. And it makes me wonder, if the universe is so bent on making this happen, is something huge and life-changing going to happen while I'm there? Let's be serious, the universe isn't usually interested enough in the lives of mere individual souls to push all of the pieces together to make something happen on its own, right? So, I have to wonder...

And now for something completely different...

...but semi-related, I guess.

About 2 years ago, right when I moved to Boston, a friend and I had this discussion/argument going about whether time has always existed and is merely a discovery made by man or rather an invention of the human race to make better order of its surroundings. It was a very interesting discussion. He and I would take a side (usually opposing, although there were the rare times when we agreed) and argue it, but ultimately come to a point where we convinced ourselves that the other side of the argument was correct, then reassess and dive in to argue again. It was quite the cycle. And I don't think that either of us has truly decided what we think the answer is.

To that point, then, I found a quote the other day that I found quite relevant to this old discussion topic, and now it's got my mind churning up about the whole question again: is time a discovery or an invention?

This quote I found is by Jok Church:
The measurement of time is a human invention.
It exists only because humans agree on the ways time is measured...seconds, minutes, days.
When we change from daylight to standard time,
it's only because we agree on it.
But time itself doesn't need a clock or us.
Time flows measured or unmeasured.
It flows with or without us.

In a nutshell, old Jok is saying that the measurement of time is man's invention, but time itself is man's discovery. Time has always existed, it's just that we humans needed a way to order it in our minds, a way to understand it on our terms.

What's funny is that this idea never occurred to either my friend or me. We even went so far as to define "time" so we were on the same page. But the word "time" can mean both "time itself" and the "measurement" of time. So really, the question seems simpler if you make that distinction.

I love this...I feel suddenly like a door has been closed on an old hole from the past. Unfinished business has just called its final day.

Summing up...(or drifting away...?)

I feel very philosophical lately. I quote song lyrics on my Gmail chat account when I hear something that makes my brain start cranking its gears. I email quotes to myself that make me think about things differently. And I'm doing something this weekend that it seems I had little to do with in terms of making the event happen.

But think about the last line of that Jok Church quote: "[Time] flows with or without us." It's so true. Humans, being the sentient creatures that we are, tend to fall into the trap of thinking we have some sort of ownership of this world, our Earth. Our lives run through Earth's everyday existence, we change things, we move things around, we manipulate our surroundings to our own liking. But in the end, we're but a whisper of a moment in the Earth's life. A small spot that will eventually, one day, fade away again. We have no control over the movements of time, the ordered chaos of the universe. It exists with or without us.

One of my favorite sayings is: "Life goes on and the world's still turning." I use it when something crummy happens that I'm not too enthused about or when something doesn't quite go my way. I say it to remind myself (and perhaps others involved) that if I take a step back, it really doesn't make all that much difference. On an earthly scale, it's meaningless. Equated to the difference between 1001 and 1002 when you're out on the infinite plane. There is no difference. It's insignificant. We move on.

And I've recently been coming to the realization that this idea is really a central part of my personal philosophy. At the end of the day, the human era on Earth is just another occurrence in this planet's vast, infinite life. Now, that's not to say that our lives mean nothing. That we have nothing to live for. Quite the contrary. We make our own lives exactly what we want them to be. I love my life. And it's interesting feeling to know that I am, on an infinite plane, completely insignificant, and yet, on my own plane I live to be as significant as I can be. To make my mark on the world and the people around me.

I'm reminded of this most especially when times like my visit this weekend happen...when I feel I have little control over what's going on. That I my actions have little effect on what's actually going to happen in this specific event. The difference between an ant blowing on a piece of lint (it goes nowhere) and me blowing on said piece of lint (it whips off in a swirl of air from the force of my breath upon it).

How's that for a way to start someone's personal identity crisis...feeding one the question of "why am I here?" It's certainly one of my favorite questions, along with it's sister question: "what is the meaning of life?" Because, as I ask myself what the answer could possibly be, I sometimes stop to chuckle at the absurdity of the question when viewed from the perspective of Earth or the universe. On those scales, does it even matter? Not really. But it fascinates me. And what draws me to this question even more is that it fascinates the entire human race. We all yearn to know why we're here. And we all answer it for ourselves in different ways. Religion, art, philosophy. In the end, it won't matter what our individual answers are, it won't matter if we all agreed on one answer.

So why ask it?
Why not?

We're here now, aren't we? And with the little section of time that we're allotted in this infinite span of time, we certainly have to do something with ourselves. Why not do something that makes us happy? You want my opinion? The goal of life, the meaning we all seek, is happiness. That's what our actions inevitably come down to. Think about the decisions we make. We make them in pursuit our personal definition of happiness. That's our purpose. That's our "meaning." That's our "reason for existence." Happiness.

You know, the Peanuts gang hit it right on the proverbial nose in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The final number has the whole cast singing about what happiness is to each of them. Happiness is what we all strive for. What we feel most comfortable and safe with. What calms our wandering souls and gives us a sense of peace. Happiness is as simple as "finding a pencil, pizza with sausage, climbing a tree" or even "tying your shoe for the very first time." (Really, if you haven't heard this song, or at least read the lyrics, you should do so. It's very soothing.) Happiness sums it all up.

[Of course, I could be wrong. Who really knows? But, the way I see it, better to create a meaning for our insignificant existence that evokes pleasant, feel-good emotions rather than harsh, bitter, or worse, unmotivated and disengaged emotions, right?]

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